Date ArticleType
8/17/2020 Member News


Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo uses 41 black-and-white photographs to explore the diverse and complex natures of individual and community identities in the American West between 1988 and 1992.

  The James Museum welcomes visitors to the opening of Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo, a traveling exhibition from ExhibitsUSA and Mid-America Arts Alliance. Featuring 41 black-and-white images, the exhibition blends classic portraiture and sport photography to spotlight this gay tradition of the American West.

Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo will be on display from September 5, 2020 – January 31, 2021.

Developed at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, Indiana, the exhibit explores the diverse and complex nature of individual and community identity in Western rural culture. Taken between 1988 and 1992 at events from Oklahoma to California, the collected body of images combines the action of riding, roping and chute dogging with intimate views into the lives of rodeo participants, examining themes of competition and community and inviting an expansive redefinition of cowboy identities.

“We are proud to host this exhibition celebrating diversity in the West,” said Emily Kapes, Curator at The James Museum. “With so many different perspectives within the Western experience, we see this exhibition as an opportunity to feature the gay community, create dialogue, and inform museum visitors on these little-known competitions. The James Museum strives to be a welcoming and inspiring space for all and to amplify voices that are not often at the forefront of popular culture and mainstream western art.”

Blake Little became more than an observer. After getting hooked on going to rodeos, he wanted to become a part of the action. He learned to ride a steer, then a bull and slowly began to master the technique. In 1990 he was named Bull Riding Champion of the Year at the International Gay Rodeo Association. He says of the experience, “The sport, camaraderie, and atmosphere of this first rodeo experience transformed me. I was completely drawn to it and I had to be a part of it. I wanted to be a cowboy.”

Speaking about Photographs from the Gay Rodeo, Little sums up how his personal experience informs the images. “These photographs represent an amazing, magical time in my life. Back then, I questioned if I was a ‘real’ cowboy because in the back of my mind I always felt like an observer—and photography was my first passion. But my unique situation allowed me to document the growing sport of gay rodeo from the inside along with the thrills and personal challenges of fulfilling my cowboy dreams.”

Save the Date!

Please be advised that the press preview for Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo is scheduled for Wednesday, September 2, 2020.


The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art at 150 Central Avenue, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 727.892.4200 or visit

Museum visitors will notice new health and safety precautions such as reduced occupancy, heightened cleaning and disinfecting efforts, face covering and social distancing requirements, as well as visitor and employee health screenings. Visitors are encouraged to review all health and safety precautions prior to their visit on the museum web page devoted to COVID-19 updates. 

About The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art   


The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art opened in April 2018 and transports visitors through the rich and diverse heritage of the American West. Its more than 400 works of art evoke the spirit of a wide-open frontier and the beauty of life in the wild. The museum engages the community through a variety of programs and educational opportunities that bring our history to life and amplify voices that are not often at the forefront of mainstream western art. Through exhibitions and educational programs, The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art emphasizes the core values of art that moved Tom and Mary James: action, fortitude, heritage, and integrity.  

About ExhibitsUSA

This exhibition is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to over 100 small- and mid-sized communities every year. These exhibitions create access to an array of arts and humanities experiences, nurture the understanding of diverse cultures and art forms, and encourage the expanding depth and breadth of cultural life in local communities. For more about ExhibitsUSA, email or visit

About Mid-America Arts Alliance

Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) strengthens and supports artists, cultural organizations, and communities throughout our region and beyond. We achieve this primarily through our national traveling exhibition programs, innovative leadership development, and strategic grant making. We are especially committed to enriching the cultural life of historically underserved communities by providing high quality, meaningful, and accessible arts and culture programs and services. Each year M-AAA’s programs, on average, reach one million people. We believe in more art for more people. Additional information about M-AAA is available at